Chapter 4: The Findings
Oleg, known as “The Captain” was leading the group of four when Dmitri voluntarily joined the expedition. “New world order” medic team had found a small tunnel padlocked since time no one could fathom. Dmitri had called upon his best recon team to check out and clear the tunnel, if required. As per the Metro norms, it was foolish move to invite trouble without any specific gain as evaluated against the risk taken. But Dmitri had intuition that this would turn out good for them. Also there was an element of surprise on why such feeble “padlocked” door had been shut for such a long time without any intrusion. Metro was known for their heavy steel sluice gate designed doors barricading stations and as a result cutting them off from outside world. This “cut-off” was necessity as “Surface world” was bursting with fierce power to get poured into the Metro whenever opportunity presents itself. So this “exception” in the rule was hard to understand for Dmitri. And hence he donned his heavy protective army gear along with his trusted SVDK to join the recon team to get to the roots.
As the door opened, stale air prisoned inside the tunnel hissed out to shower the team. Already everyone had their gas masks on with respirator system working in full flow. According to Oleg, two sets of air filters were enough to check out the things. If the tunnel led to surface, more than two sets were never required as one would run out of ammunition to fight with monstrosities rather than running out of air supply. They entered the tunnel in a single file with Dmitri first and Oleg “The Captain” at last. It was strange battle formation employed for Metro expedition where leader had to be at last as “anomalies” found to fry the brain of any battle hardened soldier, once encountered. No particular effects in order and hence leader had chance to gather his wits for better command and control once he identified attack pattern to first poor victim. It didn’t mean Dmitri was on lower rung of rank ladder. He knew very well that if attack was such that he himself was compromised than there was minimal chance for his team’s survival.
With night vision on, claustrophobic darkness turned into grainy radiated green. On few occasions, Dmitri had stopped the party with silent army gesture of raised fist on encountering sharp green laser reflection of scurrying tunnel rodents’ eyes. It was not long tunnel but careful penetration had taken few precious hours out of their digitized wrist band watch. Dmitri had checked Geiger-counter on regular basis for any sudden radiation spike. At last Dmitri observed faint light filtering through what seemed to be tunnel exit boarded up with wooden planks. In sudden anticipation Dmitri moved forward quickly and tripped. He fell facedown into small pit covered in slime. For a while, Dmitri saw someone standing near the exit with his arms spread wide covering the blockage. A dark shadow in green, writhing in pain and agony, stitched to the wooden planks. It was bad omen warning against entering the world humankind choose to destroy long time back. Someone supported Dmitri to get up. Swiping out the slime from mask visor, Dmitri found vision also swept sideways giving view to dark green reality again.
“You, all right?” First echo thundered after their inception.
“Yaa, I’m fine.” Replied Dmitri.
As soon as Dmitri with help of two others, tore through blockage and door, they were greeted with blinding sunlight overpowering their Rod cells to imprint bright ghostly vision to linger on for a while even after quick shutting down of their night vision. They found themselves in a caved in basement of large destroyed building.
From the wreckage of shelves, Dmitri immediately realized that they were in one of the most famous and revered hotspot of the city; center point of all the learning and knowledge; temple of the intellectuals; The Great Library. Even after so many years passed, lot many books were in good condition to read. It was lost knowledge, humankind never cared for while fleeting away to Metros. Team spread out with keen eye to spot any abrupt movement while Dmitri rifled through few of the large volumes scattered on the floor.
During the military sweep of the Library, Dmitri surprisingly observed human footprints on dust covered floors intermingled with multi mutant-prints. It could not be STALKERs as they would have large armor boot prints. These were relatively small as someone had taken a stroll in regular floaters. Before he could alert the team about the findings, communication radio cackled with raspy voice of Oleg with clear intent of warning,” Attention team, it seems we are not the only ones occupying the Library right now.”
Without making any noise Dmitri swiftly swiped the surroundings through telescopic sight to provide backup to the team and identifying the danger. As a long range specialist he took the higher position on upper foyer looming over the large reception area where team had made their lookout. Suddenly there was blur to right corner of the hall, a faint voice erupted on communication channel of the radio and then Dmitri sensed something lobbed in the air almost to the height of foyer 50ft above the ground. In an instance, he captured the object in telescopic sight to fire and froze solid with the horror it represented. Dmitri could clearly identify severed head of Oleg with trailing crimson mist in its wake from the ground. With all the force he could muster, Dmitri screamed like madman,
“RUN…………They are already in the Library.”
The great hall was amalgamation of various sounds playing the orchestra where every sound was out of tune; continuous screaming wrapped in noise riddled radio voice, chatter of AK74 supported by echo of .45 caliber empty shells resounding to the tile floor, ominous growling punctuated by blood curdling tissue slashing and bone crunching. Within few minutes, show was over with no spectator left except Dmitri.
Dmitri ran towards adjacent corridor blindly once massacre started. He took refuge in one small study room covered with moss and lichen. Surprisingly “creatures” ran past the room without giving any attention. One stopped right at the threshold of room, looked towards Dmitri as if evaluating its prey for quality. Took one step in the direction of Dmitri and then stopped as if sensing some trap. It growled and flew back again with herd without entering the room.
After Dmitri got his senses back, he examined the room for his mysterious escape from death. There must be something with the room which had stopped the monster from entering the room. He found a rumpled but in good reading condition diary lying on the center study table. With curiosity sky high, Dmitri opened the diary. It was kind of a personal log. Dmitri would have not paid any attention if first page monolog had not been titled as ‘Day 1: After nuclear wipe out’.
To Be Continued…..
Chapter 4: The Findings